Ivanovic and Sharapova advance into last four

Indian Wells: Former champions Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova advanced to the semi-finals of the Indian Wells WTA tournament in sharply contrasting fashion on Thursday.

Serb Ivanovic became the first player to reach the last four with a 6-3, 6-4 upset over ailing Marion Bartoli of France while Sharapova battled back from a set and break down to beat fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Fifteenth-seeded Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, and second seed Sharapova, who triumphed here in 2006, will meet in the semi-finals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday.

In desert dazzling sunshine, Ivanovic broke seventh seed Bartoli, last year`s runner-up, three times before wrapping up her win in one hour 17 minutes when her opponent pushed a forehand service return wide.

The elegant Serb, who had ousted defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round, seized control with her powerful serving and strong baseline game after being broken in the first game of the match.

"I`m definitely very happy to be through and get my revenge for last year in the quarters," Ivanovic, who was beaten by Bartoli in straight sets at the same stage 12 months ago, said in a courtside interview.

"I really knew I had to be aggressive. She does strike the ball a lot harder than maybe it looks, and also her serve comes through a lot more than it seems."


Bartoli had her blood pressure checked by doctors courtside when trailing 1-2 in the second set and said she had succumbed to the viral infection which has already forced eight players to withdraw from Indian Wells.

"I start to not feel well since yesterday night, and when I woke up this morning I knew I was not in great shape," the 27-year-old added. "But I give it a try on the court.”

"The more the match was going on the worse it was getting for me. I was having a lot of joint pains and feeling shaky and very cold. I think I get the virus that a lot of players got.”

"I just tried my hardest under the circumstances, tried to not retire during the match and still show everyone that I could complete the match," said the Frenchwoman, who has beaten Ivanovic three times in eight career meetings.

Sharapova, who had been the only player left in the draw yet to drop a set, was broken twice in the first six games before losing the opening set to Kirilenko in 44 minutes.

The former world number one levelled the match after battling through a tightly contested second set and broke her opponent in the second and fourth games of the third to race 4-0 up.

Though Sharapova lost serve in the fifth when she pushed a backhand wide, she broke Kirilenko in the eighth when her opponent double-faulted to seal victory in three hours five minutes.

"I had to keep my head up high today as I wasn`t playing my best tennis," Sharapova said. "She was paying well, especially in the first set.”

"At the end, I was beginning to play better and move better, and that was important."

World number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will face 18th seeded German Angelique Kerber in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Bureau Report

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